HIT Al-Khalid

Notes: Also called the MBT-2000 (particularly during development), the Al-Khalid is touted as Pakistanís first indigenous tank design, but is believed to incorporate much of its design from Type 90-IIs, Type 85s, and some other equipment supplied by China for analysis. Regardless of the origins of the Al-Khalid, it is essentially vehicle dissimilar enough to other tanks to be considered a new design, if not a completely independent one. The Al-Khalid was developed over the period from 1990-99, with production and fielding beginning in 2001. Most Western observers agree that the Al-Khalid is a surprisingly modern and effective design. Some 300 are in service with Pakistan, and they intend to being that total to 600. In addition, 22 Al-Khalids started being delivered to the Bangladeshi Army beginning in May 2008, and the Saudis are reportedly giving the Al-Khalid a hard look to supplement their M-1A2 Abrams tanks.

The design places the driver in the center front of the hull; he has a hatch which opens slightly upwards and to the left as to not interfere with turret rotation if the hatch is open. He has vision blocks giving him views to the right, left, and front; the frontal vision block can be replaced with an IR vision block. The gunner has his own hatch, as the Al-Khalid uses an autoloader instead of a loader crewmember, and has vision blocks that allow vision to the front, rear, and right side. The gunner is equipped with a full night vision suite, including a 2nd-generation thermal imager developed by France. The gunner also has an image intensification scope and a conventional telescopic sight; all of which are stabilized. The commander has his own thermal imager, image intensifier, and conventional telescopic sight, in a separate sensor head that gives the Al-Khalid a hunter-killer capability. The commander also has emergency controls for the main gun and coaxial machinegun. The Al-Khalid has a ballistic computer of French design, along with a laser designator of Chinese design.

The main gun is a version of the Chinese ZPT-98 gun, though the barrel has a length of 48 calibers. The gun is fed by an autoloader that has a capacity of 24 rounds, with additional ammunition being stored in the hull of the Al-Khalid. In addition to being able to fire indigenous and foreign 125mm rounds, the gun can also fire a Chinese license-produced version of 9M119 Reflecks (AT-11 Sniper) gun-launched ATGM. The autoloader is improved over that of the Al-Zarrar, able to handle newer long-rod penetrators. (ATGM rounds must be hand-loaded.) The laser rangefinder acts as a designator when the 9M119 ATGM is fired. The commanderís machinegun can be aimed and fired from under armor. On each side of the turret is a cluster of five smoke grenade launchers. The Al-Kalid has a feature found in most of the newest generation of tanks: a battle management system called Rabhar by the Pakistanis. This is a computerized system that not only monitors the state of the tank and feeds the appropriate information to the crew, but also plots the location of enemy and friendly units and keeps them updated as new information becomes available. It also passes orders from higher headquarters down and allows the commander to give orders to subordinate units, as well as providing any other intelligence and information the commander may require. This system also has GPS, with inertial navigation as a backup. The tankís electronic systems are connected to large batteries for "silent watch" use.

In development, the Al-Khalid was powered by an MTU-396 diesel engine with a German LSG-3000 transmission. Germany placed an embargo on these items in the mid-1990s due to their stance on development of indigenous nuclear weapons, and this led to the Pakistanis fitting the Al-Khalid with a license-produced Ukrainian KMDB 6TD-2 1200-horsepower engine and a French SESM ESM-500 fully-automatic transmission. This engine had the virtue of being smaller than the German engine, yet provided the same 1200 horsepower. The Al-Khalid can carry auxiliary fuel tanks at the rear a la Russian/Chinese tanks, though in practice they are little used except in long road marches.

Armor protection is modular, allowing for quick battle damage repairs and improvement as more advanced armor becomes available or heavier armor is desired. Frontal armor is composite and of Pakistani design, with side armor being spaced; it is of a more modern design than that on the Al-Zarrar and lighter in weight. The turret front, turret sides, glacis, and hull sides have lugs for ERA. Attention was paid to land mine damage in the form of thickened floor armor. The ammunition is carried in armored bins, and virtually the entire vehicle has thick Kevlar anti-spalling blankets. The engine also has a thick bulkhead separating it from the crew compartment. An automatic explosion and fire suppression system is provided, and the crew has an NBC overpressure system; the engine compartment and ammunition bins have their own systems of the same sort. The Al-Khalid has a laser detection system that can automatically trigger smoke grenades to block the laser, and a radar warning system that can give the crew a chance to take evasive action.

Twilight 2000 Notes: Though the Pakistanis were able to field some Al-Khalids in the Twilight 2000 timeline, only some 50 or so were available for the Twilight War.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$510,579

D, A

800 kg

48 tons

3

24

2nd Gen Thermal Imager (G), Thermal Imager (C), Image Intensification (G, C), Passive IR (D)

Shielded

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor*

140/98

30/18

1000+400

524

Trtd

T6

TF132Cp TS24Sp TS14 HF165Cp HS20Sp HR12

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+4

Good

125mm ZPT-98 Gun, PKT, NSVT (C)

43x125mm, 6xAT-11, 4000x7.62mm, 750x12.7mm

*Floor armor for the Al-Khalid is AV 8.

HIT Al-Zarrar

Notes: The Pakistanis have long been users of the Chinese Type 59 tank; they also knew for quite a while that their Type 59s were not only obsolete, they were not keeping up with Indian tanks; there were, however, too many of them to simply scrap them. In 1990, the Pakistanis got together with a few foreign armament firms to upgrade their Type 59s to be able to be able to face more modern designs and at least have a chance to come out on the winning end of a fight. It would essentially give the Pakistanis a modern tank at a fraction of the cost (though the upgrade program ended up costing more real-life money than the Pakistanis thought it would). The development program started in 1990, but the sheer number of modifications (54 of them), coupled with a few budgetary problems and false starts at acquiring outright replacements for the Type 59 meant that the first upgraded Type 59, called the Al-Zarrar (Striker) was not fielded until early 2004. Some 800 of Pakistanís Type 59s have been updated to the Al-Zarrar standard, and the Pakistanis also sell the Al-Zarrar upgrade as a kit for countries using the Type 59, T-54, or T-55. In addition to Pakistan, the Bangladeshis use the Al-Zarrar, having begun the upgrade of their Type 59s in 2008.

Virtually every area of the Type 59 is upgraded, enough so that the Al-Zarrar is essentially a new tank in an old tankís skin. Improvements have been made to the key areas of protection, firepower, fire control, suspension, and mobility. One of the biggest upgrades is the main gun; the 100mm D-10T of the Type 59 has been replaced by a Pakistani version of the 2A46 and its autoloader. Most of the ammunition used in this gun is Pakistani-designed, but mirrors the ammunition used by the 2A46. The main gun is coupled with a modern fire control system built in Pakistan with the assistance of Krauss-Maffei of Germany. The main gun is now fully stabilized, with thermal imaging for the gunner that is accessible to the commander. The main gun also has a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, and a monitor to help the gunner search for targets and give him information about targets and the state of the main gun and its ranging components. The gunnerís hatch has vision blocks around it that give 180-degree vision (front, rear, and right side). The commander has, in addition to thermal imager access, his own IR vision and an image intensifier. The driver, on the front right side, has vision blocks that allow frontal vision and vision to both sides; one of these vision blocks can be removed and replaced by an IR vision block. The commander has an NSVT machinegun mounted on his cupola; this machinegun can be aimed and fired from under armor.

The Al-Zarrar uses a Pakistani-built version of a Chinese engine, a diesel engine giving 730 horsepower and also having a smaller size than the Type 59s engine. The transmission was also upgraded for the new engine and is semi-automatic. The suspension is improved with wider tracks, improved roadwheels and drive sprockets, and better shock absorption through a modified torsion bar system. Though the Al-Zarrar retains the ability to mount reserve tanks at the rear, in practice they are considered a combat hazard and are normally either not carried or jettisoned before battle.

The Al-Zarrar was originally to use a large amount of appliqué armor, but this was replaced in development with a modular armor suite, including composite armor on the glacis and turret front and spaced armor on the hull and turret sides. The floor armor has been dramatically increased as well. Lugs for ERA are found on the glacis, hull sides, turret front, turret sides, and the forward part of the turret roof. A Pakistani-designed laser threat warning system is also fitted; this lets the crew know if they are being targeted by laser designators and automatically fires smoke grenades to block the laser designation beam; 5 smoke grenade launchers are found on each side of the turret. Both the ammo bins and the crew compartments have automatic explosion and fire suppression systems.

Twilight 2000 Notes: In the Twilight 2000 timeline, development was greatly accelerated, and the first Al-Zarrars were available in late 1997 and first used in combat with Indian forces in early 1998.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$488,840

D, A

550 kg

40 tons

3

24

Thermal Imaging (G), Passive IR (D, C), Image Intensification (G, C)

Shielded

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor*

124/87

27/16

1000+380

297

Trtd

T6

TF67Cp TS28Sp TR19 HF84Cp HS20Sp HR12

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+3

Good

125mm 2A46 Gun, PKT, NSVT (C)

35x125mm, 3000x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

*Floor armor for the Al-Zarrar is AV 8.

HIT Type 59MII

Notes: HIT (Heavy Industries Taxila) is the primary agency in Pakistan for the building, modification, and upgrading heavy military vehicles. One of their first tank projects, begun in 1979, was to being the Type 59 first to a like-new configuration, then to upgrade it. Most of this program resulted in the Type 59s being upgraded to the Al-Zarrar; the remainder were upgraded to a configuration called the Type 59MII.

The Type 59MII is based on the Chinese Type 59-II modification, but is not quite the same. For example, the Type 59MII has a more comprehensive night vision suite, and does not normally mount the searchlight of the Chinese tank. Fire control is a bit better, including a laser rangefinder and a ballistic computer. The commander has access to the gunnerís sights and has override controls for the main gun. Overall armor is a bit heavier and more advanced than a Type 59-II; the Type 59MII has side skirts, and there are lugs for ERA on the turret front, turret sides, hull front, and hull sides, as well as the forward third of the turret roof. Floor armor is also increased. The engine is the same as the Type 59-II, as is the coaxial machinegun, but the commanderís machinegun is an NSVT that can be aimed and fired from under armor. The Type 59IIM has an automatic fire and explosion suppression system, and the transmission is semi-automatic. The Type 59 also has an APU for silent watch. Four smoke grenade launchers are mounted on each side of the turret.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$496,584

D, A

500 kg

37 tons

4

14

Thermal Imaging (G), Passive IR (D, C), Image Intensification (G, C)

Shielded

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

101/71

22/13

815+380

261

Trtd

T6

TF53Sp TS13 TR11 HF66Sp HS11Sp HR9

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+3

Fair

105mm L-7A2 gun, PKT, NSVT (C)

41x105mm, 3500x7.62mm, 500x12.7mm

*Floor armor for the Type 59MII is AV 6.